I have had my 20 gallon tank for a few years now. I recently went out of town and the power went out in my established tank. My filter failed to restart after power was restored. I returned home to a happy bunch of fish, but obviously stressed, and all at the top of the tank.
I tossed my old carbon and bio filter (figured the bacteria was dead, the filter had been out for at least a week) and due to 8ppm ammonia readings, I preformed a 90% water change (placed the fish in a clean 5 gallon bucket of same temp water and stress coat). I did not vacuum gravel, just removed the water. The fish were immediately relieved when I placed them in the fresh clean water. And after returning to the tank (only stress coat has been added to tap water) they all have been very active and healthy. The Ammonia level in the tank read at 0ppm for about 12 hours, then has been slowly increasing over the last 8 days.
Readings have been at about .5ppm - 1ppm, then just yesterday spiked between 2 and 4ppm. I have been doing 25% water changes daily (I would rather not use chemicals to detox the water, due to inaccurate test readings), and the fish have been loving me for it. I have never cycled a tank with fish actually in the tank before. Just wondering if the increased water changes slows down the process of the bio filter developing? When should I expect the ammonia levels to drop, and nitrites to appear? I plan on doing the increased water changes until cycled. And any additional words of wisdom is greatly appreciated. Again, all is well with all 4 fish...they are just mad I am not feeding them more often.
[3 blue dwarf gourami's and 1 five banded barb (all the fish shoal with the barb..lol)/20 gallon/80 degree's/PH 7.4 (city water)/Ammonia currently at 4ppm/Nitrites 0ppm/Nitrates 0ppm/1 live plant/several bulbs/1 small air stone and 1 long airstone/lots of artificial vegetation and places to hide]
Thanks a bunch